Loon Lake, El Dorado National Forest, CA

It’s been awhile! Lots of moving, working, and getting our acts together these last few months as we transition out of grad school and into a nomadic lifestyle. I have a bunch of posts to catch up on, the big one being the major off-grid power overhaul we did to the camper (yay!!!), but I’m starting off with the discovery of Loon Lake.


In early July, a buddy of Clay’s came up to our neck of the woods and asked for advice on a place to camp for a long weekend. Blue Oak! We instantly think… until we realize that it’s July and Blue Oak will be roughly a million degrees out during the day. So we hit freecampsites.net and our California camping books in search of good spot to send him. El Dorado National Forest was a clear winner – less than two hours away, higher in elevation so cooler in temperature, and there were two water areas, Union Valley Reservoir and Loon Lake, to find a possible site at. So off he went, and we followed a few days later.

El Dorado National Forest offers a lot of campsites, some free and some for a minimal fee per night, as well as free dispersed camping. Our friend was able to snag a spot at Loon Lake Campground ($10/night, no reservations, pay by cash or check to lockbox). It offered a fire pit and a picnic table at each site with a vault toilet and dumpsters for the entire campground. The lake was a stone’s throw away for swimming.

View from the cabover bed and quite nice to wake up to!

About three quarters of a mile further down the road was the entrance of the infamous Rubicon Trail. This was a totally awesome discovery, and camping amongst tricked out Jeeps, Broncos, 4Runners, and other off-road machines made us feel like we were living a Mad Max movie.

Trailer parking, trail entrance, and the Granite Bowl

We had a great weekend. The boys went fishing, we hiked around the Granite Bowl on the Rubicon Trail, did some swimming, and swore we’d come back.

Our camping neighbors let Clay (and Lucy!) borrow their inflatable paddleboard/kayak hybrid and it was awesome. On the must-buy list.

We didn’t wait long and were back with some work colleagues at the end of July – one of which is a lovely photographer and took the (fantastic!) photos below. The temperatures remained agreeable, the lake remained swimmable, and the site remained beautiful.

Except for one small problem.

Bees. Bees everywhere.

For those unaware, our lovely, wonderful, energetic, chases-everything Lucy is very allergic to bee stings. Like, full anaphylactic shock within minutes allergic. Upon finding hordes of bees constantly flying low to the ground at our campsite, Lucy lost her freedom to roam for the duration of the weekend.

And got carried everywhere.

There was some reprieve when she was swimming though.

She also got the added bonus of getting to sit off the ground and in our camp chairs, which she found very agreeable.


Our next camping purchase will most definitely be a screenhouse.

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